By Casey O'Connor
Only days after being named Tenterfield Citizen of the Year, Liston identity Peter Bonner has received another well deserved accolade. On Friday following the official opening of the 2020 Stanthorpe Show, the Stanthorpe Agricultural Society renamed their Exhibition Centre, The Peter Bonner Exhibition Centre in a tribute to Peter’s lifetime involvement in the Stanthorpe Show Society.
Peter says he can barely remember a time when he was not involved in the Stanthorpe Show. As a youngster Peter followed in the footsteps of his family and some of his earliest memories of the Stanthorpe Show revolve around he and his brothers riding their ponies from Liston to Stanthorpe to compete. He says he was aged around six or seven at the time.
It was the beginning of a lifetime association with the Stanthorpe Show. In the decades that followed Peter has been a cattle exhibitor, Show Society Member, Committee Member, steward, prime cattle judge, and let’s not forget his Hot Chip cooking prowess to name just a few. Only recently he relinquished his position as Saleyard Manager due to ill health. It is no surprise that he has also had two terms as President. First in 1981, 1982 and 1983 and then again in the late nineties and is also a Life Member of the Association. His involvement in the Agricultural Show sphere extended far beyond Stanthorpe holding various positions on the Darling Downs and Queensland Chambers of Agricultural Societies (QGAS) where he held various positions. He also served as the Qld delegate on the Federal Council of Agricultural Societies.
Undoubtedly Peter Bonner’s greatest legacy to the Stanthorpe Show and its future was his vision and desire to have an all-purpose Exhibition Centre on the showgrounds.
There was initial scepticism among some when Peter first floated the idea. When road blocks looked insurmountable, many other would have given up on the project but Peter showed the tenacity and resilience he is well known for to ensure the project’s success.
After many, many meetings and some heartache the project finally got the green light in the late 90’s. Funds were raised, government grants received and slowly but surely Peter’s vision became a reality as he worked alongside builder Bill Kerr to see the building open for business. The Exhibition Centre was officially opened in November 1997 in time for the 1998 Stanthorpe Show.
The building now sits proudly as the centre piece of the Stanthorpe Showgrounds and is the envy of many other regional Show Societies across not only Queensland but Australia.
Brett Boatfield, current President of the Stanthorpe Agricultural Society and Show Society Patron Mr Neville Bryant both acknowledged Peter Bonner’s extraordinary contribution over his over the decades. Mr Boatfield said it was a privilege to rename the building in Peter’s honour.
Peter’s wife Tere, sons Martin and Tim their wives and families, Peter’s brothers Dick and Bill, members of the extended Bonner family and friends joined Brett Boatfield and seven Past Presidents of the Show Society to witness the unveiling of the Peter Bonner Exhibition Centre.
Of course Peter’s vision is not yet complete. There are many further developments he hopes will be undertaken in the future.
“This is truly a very special honour,” Mr Bonner said speaking after the unveiling.
“This building is for the community; to be used not just for the Show but for all types of community events.
“It is my hope that there will be many more improvements made to it over the coming years which will benefit all of Stanthorpe.”